In addition to his classics of horror fiction, it is estimated that Lovecraft wrote 100,000 letters — or roughly 15 every day of his adult life — ranging from one-page diaries to seventy-page diatribes. Perhaps 20,000 of those letters have survived, in the hands of private collectors and at the John Hay Library in Providence.
In each episode of this podcast, we'll read one of these letters (or part of it) and then discuss it. In his letters HPL reveals an amazing breadth of knowledge of philosophy, science, history, literature, art and many other subjects, and forcefully asserts some highly considered opinions (some of which can be upsetting).
And of course his letters offer a fascinating window into his personal life and times. Although we've been working with Lovecraftian material for over 30 years, we still find interesting new things in his letters, and while we don't claim to be experts we look forward to sharing them with a wider audience.
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In this letter to his aunt Lillian from two weeks after his marriage, HPL makes a very surprising proposal before describing in elaborate detail his recent honeymoon trip to Philadelphia and his walks through New York with his aunt Annie. CONTENT WARNING: Although racism is not a major topic in this letter or discussion, there are a couple of passing slurs that have been bleeped.
Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Thanks to Hippocampus Press for their book H.P. Lovecraft: Letters to Family and Family Friends. They are also the publishers of Lovecraft and a World in Transition, a book of very interesting essays by S.T. Joshi, including one about Sonia and HPL's marriage.
This is a copy of the little leather-bound guidebook to New York that his aunt Annie gave to HPL for Christmas, highlighting the numerous colonial sites in the city. HPL used it in turn when escorting Annie on a tour of the city, and recommended this booklet to other correspondents who planned to visit NYC. Measuring a very tiny 3 x 4 inches and 124 pages, it features some simple line illustrations and very sparse maps like the one shown at right. It was written by Bernardine Kielty and published by the Bowman Hotel chain, which included the Providence Biltmore.
Seen at left is the Butler Exchange building, built in downtown Providence in 1872 and somewhat disdained by HPL for being "Victorian" in style. It served as an office and retail building and as a school before it suffered a devastating fire and was torn down in 1925. The Industrial National Bank Building, shown at right, was built on the same site in 1927. Lovecraft didn't like this building either. Known familiarly as the "Superman Building", it is the tallest building in Rhode Island. Sadly, it has been vacant since 2013, when the last tenant, Bank of America, moved out. Rather deteriorated, it has been appraised as having "no value", and there has been talk in recent years of tearing it down so that Hasbro can build a taller building there to use as a new headquarters.
Here's an itinerary page from the Royal Blue Line tour that HPL and Sonia took on their honeymoon. HPL mailed a copy of this pamphlet to Aunt Lillian in another letter.
To get a look at HPL and Sonia's wedding announcement, go on over to the Brown Digital Repository